“Make America Great Again.” I’ve been seeing and hearing a lot of that lately. And I have to admit, it can make sense if viewed from the proper perspective. We gain that perspective by asking, “What made America great in the first place?”

From my seven decades experience on this earth, I learned that, first and foremost, labor unions initially made this country great. Until labor unions were formed, worker wages were poverty-level low. Working conditions were harsh and extremely dangerous. Men and women were killed and maimed on the job on a daily basis, and the factory and mine owners didn’t care one bit and did nothing to improve those barbaric conditions. Millions of families languished in abject poverty and harsh living conditions due to substandard wages. Proper nutrition was denied and millions of children suffered the effects of malnutrition. Some even died.

In the late 19th and early 20th century, men and women joined labor unions. The goal of those unions was to make the factory and mine owners treat all workers with the respect and dignity they deserved. Because those early labor organizers suffered at the hands of the owners, we had for a time a period when workers actually gained much of that respect.

For a while, workers enjoyed fair wages and humane working conditions. Of course, through costly lobbying, the owner class got legislation that weakened the labor unions to the point where they are almost non-existent. Even the non-union workers are hurt by this backlash.

We are now headed back to the days when workers are no longer respected. The same workers that originally made America great. So, let’s make America great again. Support the labor unions that gave us fair wages and a respected and stable way of life.

 

Peter P. Sirois

Madison


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